UNOPS

Learning from and accelerating good practices of local action for SDG14

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Speech by Grete Faremo, Under Secretary ​General and Executive Director of the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS)
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Speech at UN Ocean Conference​ side event: Marine and coastal management, 6 June 2017​

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The organization I lead, UNOPS, is strongly connected with local communities.

We have just ended two projects in Jalisco, Mexico and environmental studies on Green River Basin deals directly with community concerns.

Sustainable Jalisco Green River Basin is focused on the hydraulic balance of water flows all over the basin (some 20,000 sq km), in order to determine water availability to nearby metropolitan areas (Guadalajara and Leon, totaling approximately 2 ​million people).

We at UNOPS also manage infrastructure projects around the world with governments, financial institutions, NGOs, and of course the UN family. Most relevant in this case are our partnerships with UN environment.

Here we work together in support of the world's oceans and communities in coastal areas, by identifying new partnerships, such as those with Pacific Small Island Developing States.

We operate on the ground, wherever we are. We implement projects, working directly with communit​ies to make their lives better.

Across more than 80 countries around the world, we rely on local communities and work with locally hired staff.

Not only does this create millions of days of paid work for local communities, it provides the skills, resources and knowledge needed to ensure sustainability.

Now, I want to talk about what operations "on the ground" will mean now and for future generations. How we are going to connect locally and regionally in the future. And this future is now.

We are expanding our approach; we are going beyond the communities where we work to connect digitally with younger people – the tech-savvy and socially aware generation, using their language.

We want to deliver this week's call to action to them.

We have recently established a partnership with We Are the Oceans, or WATO.

WATO uses innovative approaches to reach younger generations – those with a huge stake in the future of our planet.

Through digital connections, including music, gaming and social media, WATO brings ocean awareness to people on their terms, breaking through the information overload to inspire behavioural change and action.

We are happy to support.

And today, I want to share with them your success stories.

These stories could be part of our initiative to bring awareness to younger generations.

And with awareness, we can take steps towards real action.

Let me give you an example of how this partnership works.

WATO has teamed up with global game developer to create their first game, "The Big Catch", which you can learn more about at our exhibition. It encourages users to collect ocean plastic, contributing towards a collective target to remove virtual plastic.

Players increase their knowledge about the state of our oceans while they play.

And when a game is completed, players are invited to make personal commitments to take genuine action to clean up our oceans.

So far, in just a few weeks, more than 3 million people have played the game. And WATO will continue to launch new games.

These are just the start of our plans for this partnership. But today, we want to hear from you. My question is this:

How can we replicate and accelerate community initiatives that benefit our oceans, and also those whose livelihoods depend on it? 

I look forward to hearing from you!

Thank you very much.